Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 2010



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 2010

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Parliamentary Record 15


Debates for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 21 October 2010 Hermannsburg and the people of Central Australia. The Territory has lost a great man, a man who was an astounding leader and a man who has made a great contribution to his community, Central Australia, and the people of Australia. Members: Hear, hear! Mr MILLS (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, I acknowledge family and friends who are with us today. It has often been asked if one were to depart what would one like to leave behind, and it is a legacy. The legacy lives on in the lives of other people, in many communities, in many forms. I would like to reflect on some observations I have of this life, because it is important to look at a life and take something from it so we can continue to learn. I see a man who served magnificently, impressively. A man of presence, as the Chief Minister has described. Others would have said the same: a man of dignity and with the bearing of a leader; a man who served, not to draw attention to himself, but to use music as a means to achieve something far more important, to bring people together with understanding and mutual respect; a man who served on a number of boards and committees in senior positions to provide change and leadership, and help communities grappling with challenging issues. Change is difficult. However, in the midst of all this change and tumult was a man of presence and dignity, with the bearing to keep calm and allow that change to be transacted. The presence of that quality of leadership is something which challenges all of us today. Sitting at the funeral service in Hermannsburg, I am sure a question weighed on many peoples minds and hearts: the question of quality of leadership in the face of the challenges we are left to address today. We are instructed by the quality of a mans service, his presence, his legacy to assist us on that journey. The mantle, in many respects, falls to the family; we as members of that family in another sense stand beside and support and nurture that legacy. He used music. Some people go into music to draw attention to themselves and have some celebrity status. He used music as a tool to bring people together. He toured to tell a story and make a connection. He would have started a country music festival because he would have seen music as a way where two cultures and peoples could come together to gain a better understanding of each other. That is why that would have occurred, I imagine. Tourism was a venture to help people understand this great, ancient land, and the stories of this land. That would have been the purpose. That is why it is an enduring legacy. If it had been only to make a buck we probably would not be talking today. It was for something else; there was something deeper to it. That is why there is such a powerful legacy, which we pause in our proceedings today to reflect upon, and to draw encouragement and challenge from, that which we have seen and experienced in the life of this great man. He met royalty; he met presidents and princes, and walked a difficult road. Often we come to a point where we look back - we do not realise what we had until it has gone. We have now looked back and have seen a difficult path which has been walked. If you read behind the words, as I have attempted to do, you see there have been many, very difficult challenges. However, he has walked that path with dignity and presence. One story in particular with Warren H Williams and John Williamson I think it was 1998 someone commented when they appeared on stage at Tamworth and sang Raining on the Rock, there was a standing ovation. The person who spoke of this had never seen it before. To get to the point of seeing two men singing about Uluru and rain on the rock was a long journey. It started a long way back where, for the first time in the memory of this commentator, there was a standing ovation. It was a long journey to arrive at that point, and Mr Williams reflected on the journey to get to that point. He said: When the two of us first went to Tamworth, no one was interested. A father and a son, two Aboriginal men from Central Australia no one was particularly interested. However, there came a time when there was a standing ovation. He reflected on the significance of that and the journey to arrive at that point. I found that instructive. That is a challenge - to stick with it, not give up, and remember what the real purpose is, not be distracted - and he continued. I think of the journey too, and the challenge left with us that day. I was sitting closer to the choir than the Chief Minister, and it was awesome hearing the singing from the heart powerful, but the message had come before from Mr Williams - he wants that to continue. He wants those men to sing. I spoke to some of the men afterwards saying: You heard that? Are you going to do that? They said: Yes, we are going to do our best. I said whatever way I could, I would provide encouragement, and if we could collectively, in any way, provide some support for that to continue because that was something he asked for. They sang and I would like to see more men singing in Hermannsburg just as he asked for it to be. That would be an 6491